Your Letters

Strengthen transition support for kids with special needs

We agree with Dr Lucy Pou Kwee Hoon on the need for a road map in special education ("Need for road map, community input in special education"; June 26).

Parents of children with special needs may not always have the knowledge or time to research the options and assistance available and how to go about getting them. A road map that allows parents of children with special needs to navigate the special needs education system, both pre- and post-school, will assure them that their children can develop their potential and live a fulfilling life, like any other typical developing child.

With greater clarity of options and education pathways, parents will be able to plan for their children's lives and manage their school experience better.

We are encouraged that through the Enabling Masterplan, there have been significant improvements in the support available to children with special needs. While this is so, access to special needs services could be further improved.

There are students with special needs who are not coping well in mainstream schools, but are considered faster in development and, therefore, unsuitable for special education schools.

Perhaps more options could be explored for these children, for instance, smaller class sizes or a differentiated learning programme within a mainstream school. This should go hand in hand with greater support and training to equip teachers and allied educators with appropriate strategies to handle children with special needs, as well as encouraging greater understanding of students with special needs among peers.

In addition, transition support for children with special needs at different life stages could be strengthened. More resources and assistance could be put in place to advise parents on the choices available at the child's next stage of life, and to help children with special needs better prepare for changes when they transit from early intervention programmes to mainstream schools, from school to work and from adolescence to adulthood.

This will reduce dropout from programmes, encourage continuity in the child's development and facilitate eventual participation in the community.

When there is a clear route for children with special needs and strong transition support at different stages of the child's life, parents, together with their children, will be able to make informed decisions and plan for the long term for their children's life goals and targets.

Abhimanyau Pal

Executive Director SPD

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 10, 2016, with the headline 'Strengthen transition support for kids with special needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe